THE SANCY BLOOD DIAMOND: Power, Greed, and the Cursed History of One of the World's Most Coveted Gems

Susan Ronald, Author . Wiley $27.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-471-43651-5

Back when pepper was the king of spices and monarchs governed Europe, jewels ruled. The more precious gems a king or queen had, the greater the chances of mounting an army to seize land, power—and more gems. Until it was cut in 1661, the 106-carat Sancy was "the largest white diamond in Christendom," a guarantee of wealth, though not of security. Ronald, a British historian, has gone on a treasure hunt to dig up every fact imaginable about the diamond's owners from the 14th century to the present—it's now in the Louvre, which purchased it from Lord Astor, who inherited it from his father. While she clearly illustrates the ill fortune that befell many who came into contact with the diamond, it's hard to buy her claim that "it helped change the course of European history," though those who bought, traded, stole or coveted the Sancy—among them Queen Elizabeth I, King Charles I and Louis XIV—were Europe's most powerful. As an introduction to mostly European history, this book is alternately enlightening and overwhelming. At times, the diamond gets lost in a snarl of names and facts, but those with some familiarity with and interest in European history may consider this a gem worth having in their library. Agent, Alex Hoyt. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/23/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Hardcover - 354 pages - 978-1-62045-719-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-470-35710-1
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